DixPix Photographs

     

TROPICAL CENTRAL AMERICA

 
     
  MAYAN EXCAVATIONS  

 

The Mayan civilization extended from central Mexico south to what is now northern Honduras and El Salvador.  The earliest settlements clearly identified as Mayan are dated at about 1800 BC on the Pacific Coast.  Their 'Classical Period' of monumental buildings and widespread control was from 250 to 900 AD, but in various forms their cultures persisted thereafter.  It took the Spanish about 150 years to subdue the Mayan territories, and some of their languages are still spoken to this day.

 

The Great Palace of Palenque, in what is now the Mexican State of Chiapis.  It had its zenith of power between 100 BC and 800 AD. Click to see big picture (640x422 pixels; 124 KB)
The Mayan are reknown for putting significant buildings on top of stepped pyramids. Click to see big picture (566x480 pixels; 124 KB)
The Temple of Inscriptions (Templo de Inscripciones) is one of the major structures at Palenque. Click to see big picture (640x430 pixels; 125 KB)
A side view of the Temple of Inscriptions, on its steeply stepped pyramid. Click to see big picture (640x434 pixels; 116 KB)
The Mayans developed a hieroglyphic form of writing which has been found widely engraved on buildings, stelae, etc. Click to see big picture (479x480 pixels; 142 KB)
At Palenque as elsewhere, reliefs depict powerful rulers and their deeds. Click to see big picture (640x442 pixels; 161 KB)
The Church managed to destroy almost all of the Mayan books, and their writing on buildings largely seems to glorify rulers and success in warfare. Click to see big picture (640x359 pixels; 103 KB)
A tunnel under the ruins at Palenque is not for those who suffer from claustrophobia.  It may have led to dungeons. Click to see big picture (640x440 pixels; 120 KB)
Likely the best known Mayan site is at Chichen Itza in the Yucatan Peninsula.  This is the Temple of the Warriors (Templo de los Guerreros). Click to see big picture (640x444 pixels; 128 KB)
The restored side of the the Temple of Kukulkan, better known as El Castillo, the Castle.  Chichen Itza held regional power roughly from 600 to 1000 AD. Click to see big picture (640x416 pixels; 101 KB)
A jaguar head of religious importance adorns a wall at Chichen Itza. Click to see big picture (640x445 pixels; 122 KB)
Chichen Itza translates as the 'mouth of the well', refering to this sinkhole or Cenote.  It was considered sacred, with both precious objects and people thrown in as sacrificial offerings. Click to see big picture (640x447 pixels; 102 KB)
At Cholula, the largest pyramid in the Americas (some say in the world) was built in part by a people known as the Olmeca-Xicalanca, who are usually considered a branch of the Mayan.  Click to see big picture (364x480 pixels; 100 KB)
Some of the base of the Cholula Pyramid (also known as Tipanipa) has been excavated.  The city has a long history, and was for a period the second most populace in the Americas.  It was also the scene of a massacre by Cortez and the conquistadors. Click to see big picture (640x480 pixels; 172 KB)
At some point the pyramid was covered by dirt, and thought to be just a hill until 1910.  A church was built on top of it, and much remains to be excavated. Click to see big picture (394x480 pixels; 89 KB)
The great pyramid was dedicated to the Feathered Serpent God, Quetzalcoatl.  When depicted as a serpent, it is shown with two heads, as here on an alter at the Cholula excavation. Click to see big picture (640x265 pixels; 87 KB)
But the classical depiction of Quetzalcoatl, the Feathered Serpent Diety, is at the Xochicalco site, to southwest of Cuernavaca. Click to see big picture (640x480 pixels; 144 KB)
The Xochicalco relief is best shown in two halves, to appreciate the detail.  Click to see big picture (640x480 pixels; 154 KB)
This relief is on the wall of the Plaza (or Temple) of the Feathered Serpent.  Xochicalco was founded by the Olmeca-Xicalanca approximately 650 AD and destroyed about the year 900. Click to see big picture (640x362 pixels; 93 KB)
The Great Pyramid of Xochicalco, with a stele in front. Click to see big picture (640x480 pixels; 132 KB)
Looking past the stele in the other direction at a structure sometimes refered to as a plaza. Click to see big picture (640x415 pixels; 108 KB)
A view of the hieroglyphs marking the stele. Click to see big picture (360x480 pixels; 65 KB)
This section in the upper parts of Xochicalco is known as the Acropolis, and was where the rulers lived. Click to see big picture (640x480 pixels; 125 KB)
The 'Mesoamerican Ballgame' seems to have been played by virtually all of pre-columbian civilizations and likely had religious significance.  Here is the main ballcourt at Xochicalco. Click to see big picture (640x480 pixels; 107 KB)
A detail from the reliefs on the Temple of the Feathered Serpent. Click to see big picture (587x480 pixels; 156 KB)
More unusual relief details from Xochicalco. Click to see big picture (526x480 pixels; 133 KB)
Cacaxtla also seems to have been an Olmeca-Xicalanca center which was prominent from 650 to 1000 AD. They may have fled here after being ousted from Cholula. Click to see big picture (640x476 pixels; 138 KB)
A depiction of a priest, found at Cacaxtla. Click to see big picture (554x480 pixels; 106 KB)
There are reliefs at Cacaxtla, but it is more famous for its vividly painted murals. Click to see big picture (506x480 pixels; 110 KB)
The most famous mural is of a huge battle scene.  One section has here been split here into three photos to better view the complex images. Click to see big picture (640x433 pixels; 135 KB)
The central section of the Battle Mural or Mural de la Batalla.  It depicts a fight between jaguar warriors and the enemy bird warriors. Click to see big picture (640x480 pixels; 137 KB)
A third section of the Battle Mural, ending in a destroyed area. Click to see big picture (434x480 pixels; 98 KB)
And in another mural, the Feathered Serpent, Quetzalcoatl. Click to see big picture (440x480 pixels; 102 KB)
The Xochitecatl Pyramid is a ceremonial site that goes back to several hundred years BC, built on an extinct volcano.  It was abandoned, but then reoccupied for ceremonies related to Cacaxtla. Click to see big picture (640x409 pixels; 92 KB)